Button Snr says 2001 was make or break

Jenson Button has had an upturn in fortunes so far this year, scoring eight points from four races with Renault and looking hopeful for more. A far cry from last season's disastrous time with Benetton: after his promising debut with Williams in...

Jenson Button has had an upturn in fortunes so far this year, scoring eight points from four races with Renault and looking hopeful for more. A far cry from last season's disastrous time with Benetton: after his promising debut with Williams in 2000 many dismissed the young Englishman as nothing more than a one-year wonder when 2001 proved to be so tough. Struggling with a poor car, Button scored a mere two points at Hockeneim and things looked grim for the future.

Button's father John thought that although Jenson went through a lot, it taught him a lot as well: "There was nothing I could say to him. We just let it go by but the consensus was that it would make or break him," said Button senior. "He went through a lot last year but he learned a lot, too. He went from one end of the grid to the other. I expected him to be fast in his first year but I did not really appreciate until the season was over what he did against Ralf Schumacher as a 20-year-old. In his second race he out-qualified Ralf and scored his first point."

"Last year I just kept out of the way really. Just looked forward to the next race and hoped it would be better. It could have broken a lesser driver. The world's at your feet and then suddenly it's the other way around and everything is negative. But it just made Jenson tougher, mentally stronger. Ten young drivers could come into F1 and be quick. It is the rest of the stuff that goes with it that no one tells you about. It is sink or swim. He has an old head on young shoulders now."

This year has seen the return of Jenson's enthusiasm; clearly miserable at Benetton last season he now has regained his optimism with a car that so far has been able to challenge for points. He may have been robbed of his first podium in Malaysia when the suspension let him down on the penultimate lap but is clearly delighted to have won a two fourth places and one fifth already this year. The only question now seems where his future might lie -- still contracted to Williams he may be but Williams also have an option on Juan Pablo Montoya for 2003. Flavio Briatore seems keen to keep him at Renault: presuming he continues with his current form.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams , Benetton